Federal authorities Wednesday heard directly from more than two dozen behavioral health clients concerned about the continuing disruptions of services in New Mexico.
Callers were highly critical of the state's move to freeze Medicaid funding for providers suspected of fraud. One after another, men and women, adult patients and parents of children, recounted problems getting services.
Connie Chavez is a grandmother of three children she’s raising. She said her kids haven’t been able to see their behavioral management services, or BMS worker, at school through Open Skies, the Arizona company that took over Hogares in Albuquerque. “Even though their BMS workers have been willing and ready," Chavez explained, "there is no contract in place with Albuquerque Public Schools. We haven’t had to call the crisis hotline, yet, but they certainly have been disrupted in their services and they have had outbursts.”
Adrian Jones of Albuquerque has a son who is seriously mentally ill. She told federal Medicaid officials that even though he was receiving counseling through a private provider who left his job, her family has felt a profound ripple effect because of the behavioral health crisis. “The agency that my son receives his services from is so overwhelmed right now with the overflow from the other agencies," she described, "they cannot find him a new therapist. So there is this crushing pressure on every agency in New Mexico.”
New Mexico officials were also on the teleconference which was hosted by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after New Mexico’s Democratic Congressional delegation requested a public hearing earlier this month. A date for that visit has not been finalized.
KUNM News is a New Mexico In Depth media partner.